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Although in later years a private and often isolated person, the writer, artist, sshulamith feminist thinker Shulamith Firestone was at one time a formidable public force. Brilliant, passionate, aggressive, and uncompromising in her beliefs, possessing an intellectual confidence that lives on in her work, Firestone embodied much of the radical energy of her era.

Airless Spaces

Women, Firestone knew, had to take risks to find liberation, even if it meant faltering in their first attempts. With an almost anachronistic philosophical confidence she explained the world as she saw it without hesitation, from the ground up. At age 25 she wrote the seminal book The Dialectic of Sex: And then, in a turn that still mystifies her admirers, she withdrew from both the movement and from public life.


Decades later Firestone re-emerged with a small, startling book called Airless Spacesa fictionalized chronicle of her later life, that spoke in vignettes to her years spent in and out of mental hospitals.


But as if unsatisfied by this account, admirers of her early work still wondered: Why had she left? Where had she gone?

Firestone never did unite those two pursuits, at least not publicly. She continued to paint and to write, but in later shulamirh was plagued by mental illness and stymied by the medications and institutions that kept her from self-destruction.

She continued to make friends, but was prone to fall out of touch, and the last years of her life were marked by self-imposed isolation. In late August ofFirestone reportedly was found dead in her apartment on East 10th Street, where she lived alone. She was 67 years old. The first news of her death read like a cautionary tale—a wake-up call for women who choose to reject the security of conventional family life. Later stories gave a fuller portrait of a woman who was loved and supported by family and friends, but who nevertheless slipped away.

Obituaries further described the loss of a fearless writer airlfss thinker whose work remains underappreciated, and among younger readers, largely unknown. To set the record straight is an impossible task. Everyone remembers a different Shulamith, and the following imbricated accounts may overlap without ever quite aligning.

Airless Spaces by Shulamith Firestone

Other inconsistencies, repetitions in the record, and different ideas about her have been allowed to stand, with the hope that the connections linking these writers to Firestone, her particular moment, and her legacy come alive on the page. Firestone was memorialized at St. For the service Kate Millett read a segment from Airless Spaces —the same passage she references in her contribution—and then paused to address the audience.


And she gave us one hell of a ride. We should remember her. We lost our nerve, all of us, together. Those of us who never knew Firestone cannot remember her as those who knew her can. But we can drum up the nerve that Firestone wielded in life.

On Shulamith Firestone, Part One. This section of remembrances were compiled and edited in collaboration with Beth Stryker, as part of the Shulamith Firestone Memorial Pamphlet September 23, On Shulamith Firestone, Part Two. The rest spoke as unproblematic Poles, Bulgarians, Americans and so on. See Coffee Capital, —, See also Cultural capital; Income Capitalism, 40, 47—48, 62, 79, 81, Online Only January 22, At age 25 she wrote The Dialectic of Sex: The Case for Feminist Revolution —described by contemporaries as “the little red book for women”—and then, mystifying her admirers, withdrew from the movement and from public life.

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